"Bel, too, is Shemitish, for he was born in ancient Shumir, long, long ago and went forth laughing, with curled beard and impish wise eyes, to steal the gems of the kings of old times." -- Robert E. Howard: "The Queen of the Black Coast"
Bel, god of thieves, appears in some versions of the Shemitish myth-cycle, and his rather peripheral episodes are thought to be later additions to the myth.
Bel is worshipped, however; the Zuagir nomads and the thieves of Asgalun point to his exploits to prove that their nefarious acts are blessed by the gods.
According to legend, in the time of the Elder Gods, Bel used his dark powers to conjure up an army of undead thieves, with which to plunder the wealth of all nations. In desperation, the people of Shem called on the goddess Ashtoreth for help. In the ensuing battle, the goddess severed Bel's sixth arm. Thereafter, Bel was driven into exile in present-day Zamora.
Status: Lesser God
Spheres of Influence: Thievery, deceit
Symbol: Black silken mask
None has ever seen the face of Bel, as befits a god of thieves, though several idols and amulets depict him variously as a stocky dwarf with a grinning face, a six-armed elephant-man, and a lithe, pantherish human wearing a black mask.
Bel can sometimes be invoked by the faithful and appears as a flitting black shadow, cloaking a favored being and remaining for 9 rounds. During that time, the favored being is empowered with true seeing; gains +10 to move silently checks and can pass without trace. This manifestation never favors the same being more than once per day.
Bel is worshipped, or at least paid lip service, by all who "earn" their living as thieves, outlaws and beggars.
The priesthood of Bel is independent in each major city or region, to prevent the frequent actions against one thieves' guild or temple from spilling over and affecting others. In areas with a single strong thieves' guild, the temple or shrine to Bel is usually connected to the guild hall via underground tunnels. In large cities with competing guilds, such as Arenjun, the temple is in an underground location and is recognized as neutral ground by all sides.
To maintain their benefits, priests of Bel may never buy or trade for anything. Should they slip, Bel can only be appeased by a sacrifice of stolen goods ten times the value of the item purchased.
Priests of Bel speak their own secret language (which they get as a bonus language upon being initiated into the cult).